One outlook or philosophy I have about design is that the most powerful ideas come from the combination of something old and something new. Bridging this gap between classic and contemporary creates memorable work with a deeper meaning.
No two projects are the same, each requiring a different way of thinking. However, I have found a creative process that works well for me, as well as clients.
research & question
Prior to meeting with a client I do my best to research their company/business and learn as much prior information possible. After this I create a list of questions to bring to the first client meeting. During the initial meeting I will ask these questions and not only listen to their reply, but fine-tune my list of questions to better understand their goals and unearth what they truly need. Ultimately the goal of Q&A is to decipher the client’s literal and thematic message that we are trying to visualize.
After a meeting with a client I like to get a stack of 11×17″ paper and begin to mind map. I try to resist the urge to draw and instead only work with words that the client had said in the meeting. Mind mapping helps me take the abstract notes and group them into a more digestible format. It’s through this mind mapping that I begin to draw connections and identify the theme, which in turn dictates style and helps form a base to work from. Also in this stage creative briefs, storyboards, timelines and goals are clearly defined.
Now with a more clearly defined goal and a preliminary theme identified its time to finally get to the exciting part, sketching and creating roughs. This is where the process begins to go different directions depending on the clients needs. Generally I start small in a sketchbook, take those sketches to tracing paper to refine further and then work digitally. I have found personally, that working with just a pencil and paper allows me to work more loose and stay open to new ideas, this fluidity of thoughts helps take these random ideas and combine them all into a key concept. I also ignore limitations and think purely about how the theme and concept will be translated visually, without bogging myself down with details.
refine & filter
This is the stage where I take a step back from my concepts and work on something else. I think that taking time off looking at the same thing is helpful and allows you to return with a more critical eye. Before looking at my work I will review client notes and my mind map. This helps reinforce that I’m developing all my work out from the central theme. In this stage I also take out any non-essential elements. As painful as it may be, this is also the stage where if I am not satisfied with the work I return to stage 2 before advancing.
justify & present
After filtering through my work I now justify all elements of the design. Each part must be deliberately chosen and directly serve the design’s function. I’ve found that this step is drastically easier when working with a team, assessing your own design can prove to be difficult. Input from others helps get fresh eyes on your work and offers new perspectives you didn’t experience with your work. Finally the last step is to present to the client. I always try my best to not sell my design and instead let my work speak for itself.
This process never follows these steps in order. Remaining open to change and re-exploring steps of the process is usually what helps develop the strongest work. These steps also melt together and you can’t say what step you are in, they usually serve me as more of a guideline or checklist, rather than an itinerary that must be followed to a “T”. If you have any questions about this creative process or want a more detailed explanation feel free to hit me up!